It comes from years of country living. The fact is, in Iowa, there is no place you need to hurry to. The corn at one end of the row is the same as the corn at the other end.
When I worked in Marengo, it took me 15 minutes to walk to work, even though I lived two blocks away. Somebody would always stop me on my way for a chat. Iowans can talk about sidewalk cracks ’til the dew dries.
In Philadelphia, it takes me 15 minutes to walk to the train station, and that is 7 long blocks away. And nobody stops to talk to me. I just stare straight ahead, knees and fists pumping in efficient unison, and mind my own business.
My family visited Philadelphia from Iowa this past weekend for the Fourth of July holiday. They weren’t quite ready for the change of pace, but they did their best.
We visited all the historic sites, and we did so by foot. This meant we crossed a lot of street intersections, and the crossing lights in Philadelphia change pretty quickly. Before we knew it, that 10 second digital countdown starts and we were scurrying to make it to the other curb before the light changed.
All except my dad. My mother, sister and Chad and I would gather ourselves after our traverse, breathing a little heavy, and do a mental checklist to see if everybody was ready to move on.
Nope. Dad was still on the other side of the street. His back would be turned to us, head arched back, usually looking at a church or museum something. Sometimes it wasn’t even a building, he was just gazing in wonder at trees or an informational sign.
By the end of the trip, the little countdown clocks on the crosswalk signs became critical. I knew if it was under 7 seconds, there was no way all of us would make it across the street. So us five Iowans would stand aside as the Philadelphians streamed by, and listen to Dad comment on the John Barry statue or the stained glass in Christ Church.
The city did get the best of us at times. The Fourth of July parade was long. Long, long, long. We didn’t make it all the way to the end. After the Native American dancers, we pulled the plug and headed to the parkway celebration.
Later that night, Chad, Elissa and I bailed on the free Roots concert. With over 2 million people in attendance, the closest we
could get was 10 blocks away. We couldn’t even see the stage; we could only see a large screen. Plus, with no chairs, it meant we were either going to have to stand for 4 hours or fight someone for some space on the curb.
As Chad said, “Why torture ourselves?”
We decided to go back to the apartment and watch the concert (Boys II Men!!!) on the big screen there, in comfort. I was a little disappointed to miss the fireworks show. It looked amazing. However, we were able to see the top half of the fireworks by looking out the 12th story window.
It was awesome to have the family here and they truly enjoyed the city, just as I enjoyed showcasing what Philly has to offer. We hit up everything: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, City Tavern, Jim’s Steaks, Reading Terminal, the Rocky statue, plus many diverse bars and restaurants, all within three days.
If anybody else wants the tour, stop on by!